Smooth out the rumpled feathers, dig in, and launch again,

It’s been a long time since I sat down and shared, wrote, and put The Botanical Beauties & Beasties “out there.” Too long.  Much water has been crossed over; bridges have been traveled to and from and back again. I know it’s time to get back to BBB3.  The present state of the world, our new politics, and policies are quiet distressing to me. If you don’t agree that’s your option/opinion and you can unsubscribe if you so wish. I won’t be talking much politics here except to mention that our nations new paths of exclusion, non environmental, bigotry and violence in words and actions have spurred me to go back to the BBB3 core message and tag line of Kindness, because it’s always the bottom line. When I changed the tag line back in May 2015 I had no idea of what was to come in November 2016.  We need a world of INCLUSION, compassion, awareness of our world, the earth, and each other.  This is what has partially pushed me out of my blasted off rocket that took off so many months ago. I have indeed landed, bumpy at times, but a good landing overall-moving forward with the Botanicals feels especially pertinent now. I am far from even remotely thinking I am more than, or even as big as, a submicroscopic dot on this universe-however, if ALL the tiny little parts gather ourselves up and collectively we can make a small impression it’s a great start.  I will try to do my part here, and hopefully The Botanical Beauties & Beasties can shine and do their small part.

So-I hope to be able to provide a small smile, a kind thought and new drawing every 10 days or so.  If I can accomplish that I will certainly share them with anyone that so kindly reads these post.2016-logoblog

Does clutter become The Fabric of My Life?

Clutter, “Stuff”-The fabric of my life? I hope NOT!  I refuse to believe that my stuff makes up WHO I am. It is true that, partly, it makes up what my home looks like, how crowded my mind, and possibly my life, may be at any given moment. All this “stuff” didn’t just appear one day in my house, my mind, or my life, it’s an insidious, slow moving, existential like growth. Maybe it is like fabric? I suppose it did start as a small swatch and has evolved into yards and yards over the years. If I continue with this analogy… fabrics can get messy and be washed, they can get cut up and reused or re-purposed, they can be loved as well as tossed out or given away. Sometimes they fade, and sometimes we have to give them up for they are no longer possible in the space. My “fabric” (like yours probably) has pretty much been through most/all of those scenarios.

This topic has come up for I am reorganizing my office/studio. It is the result of winter damage, which meant a wall and ceiling needed to be repaired, which meant EVERYTHING had to come out of a VERY crowded, over stuffed, “creative chaos” room. Not a bad thing in the long run, however in the short run it has been exhausting. Taxing my left side brain into hyper organization and lots of practice in the art of “letting go”-into the recycle, trash, or donate pile. This brings up another favorite topic, the one of Intention. I am practicing that skill as well. I read an article that stated- “Most traditional approaches do not consider the energetic impact of clearing, no matter how miniscule the task or effort. The fact is, clearing anything consciously and gently … creates an energetic opening—a spaciousness—that works on us slowly and surely to soften our grip of attachments.” (article)  I have been very intently/consciously clearing things out for approximately three years now. It started with the closets full of clothes, and slowly I have been working on the “stuff.”  The office/studio has accelerated the cause along. In theory (and mind) I don’t want the all this stuff, I want my space (in all ways) to be clearer. Much easily said than done for me. However, it is better than before and I am slowly learning the process and power of Intention in so many aspects of life. Intention of letting go. Intention of holding on when appropriate. Intention of a never ending process of moving on to whatever is next with an open mind and heart. Intention of clearing (in mind as well as physical space.)  An intention of realizing it is not about throwing away something but is often about letting go of a far bigger commodity than the goods in my hand. I am far from done. I will probably always be working on this “intention and clearing process.” It will probably never be easy, or fun. I do know it does feel good to let some of these things go. There is some truth to the saying of- Clear the clutter, Clear the mind. 

For all those that are spring cleaning, or life clearing- May the journey be partly to embrace the change, and enjoy the clean air in that new cleared space. (At least, that’s what I am trying to do.)

It always comes back to KINDNESS. This time it’s kindness to yourself, give yourself a break, a pat on the back, and awareness that the journey is what often matters and that simple is often an easier way to go. As Robert Browning so famously said, and the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe beautifully adapted-Less is More.

Birdelini takes on the motto of Less is More in her Simple Spring Hat 2015 collection.
Birdelini takes on the motto of Less is More in her Simple Spring Hat 2015 collection.

Changes: “Life is a series of surprises.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

First I was going to write about a topic that has been fascinating me since I heard a TED Talk  called How to spot a liar” by Pamela Meyer. It’s about trust, deception, and our society’s propensity for lies. It’s compelling, and I recommend using 18 mins of your life to listen to it. However, I moved on to topic #2. That was to be Clutter – Clear the clutter, clear the mind. Goes with new beginnings and one of my favorite topics-Letting go! Although those words and thoughts take up a LARGE portion of my mind these days, it was too much, too complex, and more than I wanted to share in words. Therefore, it was shelved for “later.”  Topic #3 was intriguing when I wandered over to  the word of Friendship. However, as I sat down to write I changed my mind again and indeed the topic I have settled on is CHANGE. Particularly , change with Botanical Beauties and Beasties.

The Quote below is from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays and Lectures. “From a layered and immeasurably insightful 1841 essay titled “Circles,” exploring the pillars of personal growth and how we can learn to stop resisting the very things that help us transcend our self-imposed limitations.” I found it on a site I read regularly called Brain Pickings. Click for the full story.

Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series… The new statement is always hated by the old, and, to those dwelling in the old, comes like an abyss of skepticism.

[…]

In nature every moment is new; the past is always swallowed and forgotten… Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit. No love can be bound by oath or covenant to secure it against a higher love. No truth so sublime but it may be trivial to-morrow in the light of new thoughts. People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.

Life is a series of surprises.”

Surprise # 1:  I might have mentioned to you I am changing the tag line of the business. I am thinking about simplifying things across the board. In life, and so in my business as well. That means change. The tag line has been “Live Kind. Live Green. Live Creatively .” When I do shows those words will continue to serve my story verbally and I still believe in them wholeheartedly. However, I have been thinking for a couple of years now, If the world were to be a bit more “evolved” then Live Kind, Live Green would be one and the same. If we are to truly live within Kindness, that translates  into kindness for self, others, and the world around us, including the planet we all share. So, in the hopes of evolution of us all, and in the process of simplification…. the new line is …. are you ready?…. drum beat please…. Kindess. it's always the bottom line.

As for the third part,  i.e. Live Creatively …Well that most surely continues. Creativity comes in many forms and sizes mostly as words, images, motions and thoughts. We (society) need much help if creativity disappears. For me it is important that I utilize my creativity often, when I don’t my mind gets (even more?) muddled. My thoughts are far enough off the beaten road at times without adding any extra curves! But, I’m also glad about that-without those thoughts, ideas, and imagination the Botanical Beauties would never have been created, launched or shared in any manner. I hope we all agree that would be a shame.

The next step is to figure out to keep moving forward and what’s up next. New paths are ahead, changes are ahead, but I am not clear yet on what, when, where, or how. I continue to work on learning the how, and simultaneously, trying to do (!) the writing and illustrating of  my children’s book. The book has totally changed recently. I will share the New Book when I get a better grip on it.

If anyone has any solid ideas about good marketing, or paths to follow for the Botanical Beauties and Beasties, by all means, please speak up! New crossroads, new thoughts, new directions are indeed what I am looking for!

Surprise #2 – Well, time will tell.

 

Zoie and Kindness

Part two-‘You’ll never know your limits unless you push yourself to them’ – and The Pacific Crest Trail

“Sometimes in life we choose opportunities to test our limits; sometimes we must simply deal with what is.”
– Kirk Sinclair

It was August 7th, south of Crater Lake (Southern Oregon), at the end of a Humanity Hikers post I see the above words. (http://www.humanityhiker.com ) A statement that really came home for me and so I am sharing it with you on the opening of this post. It seems like a good Be Here NOW statement! Our opportunities, our limits, our possibilities — sometimes we get to choose —sometimes we don’t!

The heading for that particular post of Kirk’s was Limits. In the second paragraph of his post he says, “Occasionally at a road crossing we see an inspirational note for thru-hikers pinned up. One such note near Little Hyatt Reservoir read: “You’ll never know your limits unless you push yourself to them.”  It got Kirk to do some reflection on his past PCT hike, and now his present one with his current challenges. I will let you read his words on your own — http://www.humanityhiker.com/limits/. As for me, I can’t read that and not drift into my own thoughts — what are my limits and boundaries that I am personally and professionally pushing? What are the things I simply must accept and “deal” with? Always good to think and about. Always good to be mindful of. Always good to have some clear thoughts on. I hope you give some thoughts to your own journeys, spend a little time and labor over the thoughts, I can almost guarantee it will be time well spent. I am all for following the path and the flow, but that must be accompanied by, and with, mindfulness. The river and current do indeed glide where they want, but you direct your own boat!

In early August, two friends joined in the PCT hike (Mike and his girlfriend Jill) and they are now hiking what Kirk calls “high country.”  Skirting around “Three Fingered Jack and a long approach to the ever looming Mt. Jefferson. At one point we joked that we must be in the Twilight Zone, as we would hike around a similar looking knoll to an open view of the towering strato volcano, without it looking much closer. Only once we got to Jefferson Park did we see the mountain in its full majesty, though obscured somewhat by the haze of recent fires…My knees were aching that night from over 16,000 feet of elevation change in two days, but all together they were full days worth the cost.” The next post he mentions there was a 10,000+ feet elevation change over 22.6 miles. O.K. – let’s be real -the mileage alone is impressive! Add the elevations changes, backpacks , etc., and it is actually a bit intimidating as well as awesome! By the way, he does also say-“I foresaw lots of ibuprofen in my future.” That made me feel a teeny tiny little less sluggish and unfit! …Then again — a rain deluge falls on them. …”After about 20 minutes, the rain abated and we continued on. We first saw the beautiful results of a cloudburst. Flowers sparkled with raindrops, and mists rose like smoke from the distant valleys. Yet we were traversing the spurs of an imposing mountain. In between those spurs were creeks to be crossed, creeks now swollen from the funneled waters of a cloudburst streaming down between those spurs.” I can only imagine how beautiful that must have been!

Montage

It is now mid August (8/16) and the gang is actually on a rest day! They are at Kirk’s sister-in-laws house and getting ready to hike what is apparently the “the most remote, rugged section of trail a section in Washington State. I figure if we complete this section we’re golden.” The post is in actuality about the strange and mysterious ways the brain can work. It is called A Conundrum, and it is an interesting view into what/how actions, reactions, sights, senses, and exercise can work with our brain synopsis. (http://www.humanityhiker.com/a-conundrum/) – Very interesting and worth a read!

August 19 and they are driving up to Rainy Pass (a mountain pass on State Route 20 in the North Cascades Mountains of Washington State.) Here they are to begin the potentially most difficult section of trail. As they arrive they were greeted with an “increasing parting of the clouds. When we crested at Cutthroat Pass we witnessed what John Muir once phrased as “a new heaven and new earth” with a new panorama of steep, snowfield blotted mountains before us. So this is what the North Cascades looked like! Wow! Right up there with John Muir’s Sierra.

The North Cascades
The North Cascades

They had a forced rest day – “The trailhead bulletin board at Rainy Pass announced that three sections ahead were obstructed by blowdowns and washouts. There was a reroute around the section north of Harts Pass, but that was marked by blowdowns as well. Anticipating the worst, as is wise to do for Cindy’s affliction, we had to conclude that reaching the Canadian border might be impossible for us. We arranged for Charissa to meet us at Harts Pass for that contingency. I started thinking in terms of an incomplete thru-hike, not uncommon, as we met several thru-hikers that skipped sections that were rerouted on roads because of forest fire.” Now, you may, or may not, have been paying close attention, but this seems like a very big statement to me. Kirk goes on to say in a few days later posting, that they will indeed keep going until Thanksgiving, doing their “long hike” now (which by the ways means 2,000+ miles!!!!!), and that hopefully, next year they will return to finish up the last parts/bits they cannot complete this time around. Charissa has a cold and so is doing the support role and to boot gets a flat tire… a very scary realization that indeed rocks FALL on the road and a beach ball size rock had rolled into the road a little further down from the flat tire happening… Mike is indeed with them so I imagine that is a plus… but Cindy is in tears, “while up on that beautiful ridge, a tearful “hiking is not fun anymore.” I (Kirk) knew changes needed to be made; I (Kirk) put my arm around her and discussed what those changes would be.”  Clearly a bit of a rough ride, but there is more to come. Posted on August 24, Kirk says “All along the Stevens to Rainy Pass stretch worried me the most. This was the longest stretch with the longest climbs on our journey.” It was clearly a tough 3 or 4 days. It is much than I can do justice to with a recap- so again I provide you with the link, enabling you to read it first hand. http://www.humanityhiker.com/when-a-cold-is-good-news/ I will tell you the result was a few changes, shorter mileage days, and a rest day every 5-7 days.

This seems like a good “golden rule” to end up on at this point.

‘Our original goals have changed, but not our resolve.

And so that takes us to today — next weekend happens to be Kirks birthday. If you hike over to his site-send him your good wishes for another year of goodness and hiking.

My next post about The PCT journey willbe an interview from Diggerfoot to Kirlk.
Stay tuned!

Holidays, Alzheimers, Exercise for Brain Health Research, and the PCT

As we here in North America settle into Labor Day Weekend, I will use these “holiday days” to post a tribute to my friend, and his labors of love for his wife and their cause.

You may (hopefully) remember my post of the introduction of Diggerfoot and so my friend Kirk. Kirk, his daughter Charissa, and his wife Cindy, are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with, and for, Cindy’s bucket list. Cindy has Alzheimer’s. The couples core is as long distance hikers, or as they seemed to be called, thru-hikers. As a couple they have traversed the country (The Continental Divide Trail,) hiked the Appalachian Trial and this is Kirks second time on the PCT. Compleating the three is called the Triple Crown. It’s a desire of Cindy’s to have that accomplishment, matching her husbands. As Kirk so clearly stated on his website, and I want to remind you…”We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.  To see how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit that page.”

Cindy-and-Charissa

Flowers-Sierra2

I will take two consecutive posting here on The Botanical Beauties & Beasties site to try to recap some of what I found the enticing tidbits of info and fact from the first two months of their journey. These two postings may be a bit longer than usual, but I hope you will find them compelling and that they tempt you to connect to Kirks blog and find out more about their cause and journey. (http://www.humanityhiker.com/) ~

The hike began at Snoqualmie Pass. This pass is about 45 minutes from the Seattle Metro area and is part of Rocky Mountains. It was a little tougher than expected the hikers had a false start. From Kirk’s blog -“We spent our whole first day in the snow, also struggling to find the trail. The day never climbed above freezing…” So here in MA we were enjoying all the summer trimmings and they were in snow! For a few reasons, Kirk makes the call and they turn back. He decides “We would go further south to start our hike north to the Canadian border, precisely at Mackenzie Pass in Oregon. I also resolved that we really had two goals. One was to get Cindy the Triple Crown. The other, and more important, was to enable Cindy to enjoy life, even at the cost of the other goal.”

With this change of their plans they have created  “a “flip flop” thru-hike in order to stay away from snow and make the hiking easier for one not as sure of foot as she once was.….Our first day out from Mackenzie Pass, after first hiking through a lava field reminiscent of a moonscape, we encountered over a mile of hiking on snow, followed by burned forests littered with extensive blowdowns. This was not making hiking easy for Cindy but I made the call to go on this time because the snowfield was on gentle slopes, no steep traverses, and burned forests don’t go on forever.”

Sonora-Pass-View2
Panoramic views!

Now, they are on track, up at 10,500 feet, they have climbed out of Sonora Pass and have an amazing panoramic view. Sonora Pass northern boundary is Yosemite National Park, and it also where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses Hwy 108 for those of you who know roads! With an elevation of 9,620 feet, it is the second highest paved pass in the Sierra Nevada range. By early July the gang is in the S. Lake Tahoe area. Kirk is running support and a self-appointed Sherpa to make this journey possible. He says in his posting that “I think is one of the most beautiful stretches along the PCT, the Desolation Wilderness.” I read that the temps are in 80’s, I haven’t read bad words about snow for a few postings now, and the trip seems to be moving along. I am glad for them.

A July posting is called Collapsing Tent Poles. Cindy is struggling with daily tasks and  towards the end of his post Kirk says- “At times like this you wonder why you would continue with this. The answers come from Cindy. We are always meeting other hikers and tell them something about what we are doing. To one group I gave the report on how exercise is the only thing shown to actually regenerate brain tissue. Cindy chimed in cheerfully: “Yep! That’s why I’m out here! …. Well, and I love hiking.” The positivity that Cindy demonstrates, and the strength they all show, is proof of the wonders of the human spirit when we, as people, need to call it up, somehow it seems to rise to the occasion! If you are mindful of it, you can witness this all the time in our daily lives. The struggles are unique to our own paths, and each one is equally important to the individual facing the challenge.

A few days later and the group is about 10 miles N. of Sierra City, headed over to hike the Sierra Buttes section of the PCT. “As we descended into Sierra City we finally got down low enough to be out of the snow.” (Amazing out here on the East coast we were enjoying a very lovely summer! Sun and no snow thank goodness!)…By mid July I am seeing posting that mentioned Cindy and her gang are hiking 20 miles a day! Impressive!

SNOW!
SNOW!

This posting is from Kirks blog on July 26, and the three hikers are back close to where they actually tried to start their hike originally. Remember that a 10 mile snowfield turned them back around to begin elsewhere!  “We were just a few miles into the Three Sisters Wilderness…As we tackled this section south of Mackenzie Pass on July 22 there were no ten mile snowfields. Indeed, I failed to remember how spectacular the scenery was through here, a source of continual awe were it not for being focused on the footpath. The lava fields made for some tough footwork for Cindy, as did the snowfields. For though they did not last for ten miles the patches occurred frequently over such a length.” Day two of that section, and thunderstorms hit…rain, drizzle, and cold, created this sentence. “All rain gear not made of rubber, to my knowledge, have a saturation point. Ours had reached that in the continuing rain. Wet and cold, I knew Cindy faced hypothermia conditions. After only three miles I knew I had to find a campsite soon.” As expected, they weathered the storm … one of the most heart warming moments in my readings of Kirk’s post is what he wrote after setting up a campsite, cold, wet, and in that storm – “This was the essence of us as a couple: content in our sleeping bags after a day’s hike, weathering the storm. This was normal for us; the way things should be. I looked over at Cindy and absorbed the music, knowing just how fleeting such “normal” moments now are. I wanted to freeze and hold onto that moment forever.”  http://www.humanityhiker.com/weathering-the-storm/  As Kirk stated, the experience had created a new normal and they had gotten thru it all. An interesting question for us to think about. That concept of “normal” and how it is really a very wide dynamic range for most of us and pretty much most of the time! Do you have a new “normal”? Is yours ever evolving? I know mine is.

So I will end this post here – and in a day or two, I will ”recap” the best I can the August postings! Catching us all up-to-date, and hopefully a little more “aware.”

As I write those words, I can’t help but also be reminded of all the awareness that the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought to the ALS issue. There are so many important places, things, and issues that call for our attention and awareness these days!

 “Slowly, I witness the constants in my life fade around me. All things must pass. I just wish we could have more control in the manner of their passing.” – Kirk Sinclair

 

Helping hands….

Everyone needs some help at times of the day, the year, or even in a moment.

We all know it’s spring thank goodness it’s time for flowers and herbs and gardening again! Peaceful. Healthy. Beauty. Color. Meditative. Calming. Soothing – those all words I associate with gardens and gardening. Here in my little piece of the world I have a back deck that turns into a little piece of all those words for me each year. It is a deck that I surround with “window boxes” or in this case rail boxes, that I mostly fill with Herbs. I use the herbs for cooking, ice tea (yes I grow many mints,) and just because I love being able to go out there and have all these possible scents surround me. There are naturally flowers too…but enough about what I personally plant.  The real point of this story is helping hands…..so…. I was at my local garden center to buy the soil for the boxes. There was even a special deal price of my favorite soil in a 2 1/4 cubic feet bag.  Great! Now, you need to know that I am pretty strong and about 5 foot 8, so I am not a small weak wisp of grass…. these bags are HEAVY! I struggled to get the first on my cart. Then the helping hand came. A couple came walking by, the man asked if I was getting another bag. I said yes, and he (with some effort too I may add) put the second one on cart. FAB! Then to add to the goodness, they were right behind in line to pay, and he offered to put them in my car for me. A big win for Kindness and for me. Thanks you universe for that helping hand when I needed it.

Helping Hands image

Helping hands…holding hands… the two often mix. That’s a very good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom of an open palm, in Yoga and life.

Sunday mornings I often have a small argument with myself, there are three parts to this “conversations.” The first part is: I am most likely lying in bed, snug and comfortable, and since it’s winter the outside is cold and my bed is warm. Leaving it seems silly.  The second part is from my body:  It is often just plain old tired and going back to sleep is pretty much always tempting. The third part is my mind: You see, the ideal, and the goal is, to get up, get moving, and go to Sunday morning yoga class. The mind says: Go- you will be glad you did…Go-it is always a good idea to go to yoga …Go-you will learn something new, whether it be a corrected pose or a thought. … Go- it’s exercise and stretching, and especially in the winter it’s important to keep the body moving! … Go-you love it when you do. Go-you feel better after class/practice. Go-its self kindness. Im glad to say the mind usually wins these days, and I do get up and go!

This past Sunday my teacher brought  up a topic she has mentioned a few times lately. It’s the wisdom of an open palm. Birdelini and I love this and keep thinking about it.  Read on and we think you will too.

Lets try something. Stop reading for about 30 seconds and make two tight fists. Clamp your hands as hard as you can. Breathe in and out. Hold another bit. Now think about that for a moment. It doesn’t feel very good, your muscles tend to tense up, you may have even scrunched up your face muscles. Did you feel the tension that came with that? Thats a fist that lets nothing in! Now, just put your hands out and open your palms up to the ceiling. …. Breathe in and out. Stay there another bit….Kind of amazing the difference in feelings! One is tight, controlling and stressful to hold. The other is almost relaxing! That’s the beauty of open palm living! An open palm, lets the day take its course it doesn’t need to control everything, for an open palm is open for giving and receiving. “Often we are focused on what we can get for ourselves out of the fear that if we don’t get all we can then someone else will get it and we will be missing out.  We clench our fist and hold on tight.  The Open Palm knows that there is much for everyone…” –http://www.balancedlifeyoga.ca/the-wisdom-of-an-open-palm-finding-balance/.  Open palm living lets it “be” – ebbing and flowing, giving and taking in an open manner.

Birdelini and I continue in our yoga practice….we’re loving the open palm thoughts, and trying to be open to all that comes our way. How about you?

Birdelini Yoga Warrior Pose
open palms here…

camel pose
camel pose-Heart Opening – relieve tension and stress.